Hoeven: Defense Legislation Advances C-27J Mission for North Dakota Air Guard

Also Puts National Guard Chief on Joint Chiefs of Staff

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today met with local, state and North Dakota National Guard leaders to outline key legislative provisions in authorization and funding bills that advance the Guard and keep plans on track for its new C-27J mission. These initiatives include: 

  • $480 million in funding for the C-27J Spartan procurement program
  • Report language urging the Department of Defense to continue the C-27J Spartan program in FY 2013 and future budgets, and
  • A seat for the National Guard Chief on the Joint Chiefs of Staff 

“Our Guard members are the best in the nation and do a tremendous job with their current missions,” said Hoeven. “They’re also primed to base and maintain the C-27J cargo plane, an aircraft that provides key support for our nation’s defense and homeland security operations. These provisions ensure that the C-27J program continues to move forward and keeps Fargo in line to receive its scheduled aircraft. The C-27J mission is in addition to the Predator mission, which will continue.” 

While currently flying the C-21 Lear Jet, the 119th Wing is scheduled to receive four C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft beginning in 2013. As governor, Hoeven worked to bring the C-21 to the Air Guard as a bridge mission to ensure pilots and crews maintain certifications until the C-27J mission begins.

The C-27J is a versatile cargo aircraft used to transport materials in support of combat operations.  The U.S. Air Force uses the aircraft for troop movement, airdrop operations, humanitarian assistance and homeland security missions.

  • FY2012 Funding for C-27J Spartan Program 

The FY 2012 defense funding bill, approved on Saturday, provides $480 million to expand the C-27J Spartan fleet. This program funding keeps on track the current C-27J procurement schedule and plans for basing the aircraft in Fargo.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a conferee responsible for reconciling the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill, Hoeven backed the C-27J Spartan and advocated for funding the program in line with the budget request. The Air Force expects to deliver the aircraft in the 2nd quarter of 2013. 

  • Support for the Future of the C-27J Fleet 

In addition to funding the C-27J in FY 2012, the defense appropriations bill also offers strong support for the future of the program. Hoeven, along with members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, included report language urging the Department of Defense to keep the aircraft in the FY 2013 and future budgets. The report also supports keeping the C-27J fleet under the guidance of the Air National Guard. 

  • National Guard Seat on Joint Chiefs of Staff 

The National Defense Authorization bill incorporates the National Guard Empowerment Act, legislation cosponsored by Hoeven that makes the Chief of the National Guard Bureau a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This provides the nation’s 450,000 National Guard members, including almost 4,500 North Dakota Guardsmen, a stronger voice in the shaping the nation’s defense policies.  The Chief of the National Guard will have a seat on the body responsible for advising the President on defense and homeland security issues. Congress passed the legislation last week. 

“As governor, I witnessed firsthand our National Guard soldiers and airmen step up time and again to defend our nation and protect our communities,” said Hoeven. “They provide critical support defending our nation both at home and abroad and their voice should be heard at the highest levels.” 

Hoeven was joined by Congressman Rick Berg, Col. Rick D. Gibney, commander of the 119th Wing, and local leaders at a news conference to announce these key initiatives.

AIr Guard News Conference